Why Motor City Felt Like Silicon Valley During This Year’s Detroit Auto Show

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The next generation of automotive innovation was on full display at this year’s North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). The annual car show in Detroit was host to hundreds of domestic and international car companies showcasing their concept cars and new-age technology advancements.

MarketScale spoke with Executive Director of NAIAS Rod Alberts to get his thoughts on the state of the automobile industry, the concerns and excitement around the growing relationship between technology and automobiles, and some of his takeaways from this year’s show.

What sets the Detroit Auto Show apart from others around the country has been the dedication to showcasing not just automobiles, but every aspect of the transportation industry.

“We saw major interest in alternative forms of transportation (scooters, personal drones, etc), autonomy, and connected cars,” Alberts said.

There has also been a shift in the production and development of sedans throughout the industry, one trend that’s been hard to miss according to Alberts.

“This year there was a great increase of Crossovers and SUVs,” he said. “This is telling for the industry as many automakers have opted out of the production of sedans and are focusing their U.S. efforts on trucks and SUVs.”

Technology, however, has been a focal point of this year’s show. After the viral success of trade shows like CES (Consumer Electronic Show), where groundbreaking innovations attracted everyone from industry leaders to celebrity rappers, NAIAS understood the importance of displaying the latest and greatest in tech and auto this year.

“We have almost 200,000 square feet of displays concentrating solely on technology and seeing the technology on display during the 2019 NAIAS is always a huge draw for media and industry professionals.”

Chinese car maker GAC made a splash debuting its concept SUV, “Entranze” while also showcasing its newly-released GM6 model SUV. The Entranze includes high-tech features like OLED center displays, AI-powered voice control to minimize driver distraction and illuminated touch controls around the perimeter of the steering wheel.

While still unavailable for purchase in the U.S., the company plans to begin sales as early as next year. Closer to home, Ford showed-off its latest Explorer model, one that will feature semi-autonomous driving technology, a clear indicator of the rapid expansion of self-driving tech.

“The line between technology and vehicle has been blurred to the point where the two almost co-exist. The automotive industry is changing daily, and it is the technology companies that attend our show driving those changes,” Alberts said.

There are some challenges the automotive industry must face to keep up with the rapid advancements in technology.

According to Alberts, “The industry is facing an incredibly rapid pace of mobility innovations paired with traditional long production automotive cycles. Showcasing the ground-breaking innovations in our AutoMobili-D proves we’re constantly at the forefront of the latest technology coming to the industry, and automakers are having to determine which are best for their current and future product offerings.”

The 2019 Detroit Auto Show left both car lovers and tech junkies excited for the future. Cars are getting smarter, production is becoming more sustainable, and every year these advancements are making it safer to drive. From the sleek and supercharged Shelby GT500 to the new Kia Telluride equipped with radar and lidar-powered Highway Driving Assistance, the automotive industry has shown that in 2019, it is far from slowing down.

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